by Katie Ferraro
Ah, jet lag ... everyone’s least favorite travel companion. While it would be ideal to travel across time zones without feeling it’s effects, most of the time jet lag is unavoidable, especially when there’s a significant time difference. However, there are some things you can do both before, during and after your flight to get your body back on track a little easier. Read on to discover them.
Jet Lag Apps
We live in a digital-forward world, and technology has made traveling easier by leaps and bounds. This includes helping your body adjust to time changes. Simply put, jet lag is caused by an interruption in your biological clock, which runs based on light and circadian rhythms. But, thankfully, there are plenty of jet lag apps out there to get you back on track.
One app created to help curb jet lag, based on research from NASA, is called Timeshifter, and its claim to fame is personalization, as it suggests pre-flight adjustments you can make to start preparing for your new timezone in a way that works with your real world schedule. This is probably best for the frequent flyers out there, as it does cost $25 a year for unlimited plans. However, the first plan is free, and you can elect to purchase plans for $10 apiece.
Another science-based app on the market is Uplift. Its three pillars are sleep better, feel better, recover better, and it works by synching sleep and acupressure recommendations to your trip itinerary so you won’t miss a beat once you touch down in your destination. Currently, it is offering a free six-month trial, with a renewal of $19.99 a year for unlimited global plans.
If you’re looking for a free option, try Entrain, developed by the University of Michigan. According to its App Store page, “Entrain is a mobile application that uses your lighting history, activity and heart rate to recommend schedules of light and dark,” which works to shift your circadian rhythms as quickly as possible. You even have the option to share the data with the university, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Before you even get to the airport, two things you should focus on are getting a good night’s sleep and hydration. If you’re starting your trip sleep-deprived, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. In fact, you are setting yourself up to be even more jet lagged. Add dehydration to the mix and you’re really asking for it.
Set yourself up for success by drinking plenty of water and avoiding things like alcohol and caffeine, which can hinder your sleep. If you really want to give yourself a one-up (depending on the direction you’re flying), you can gradually adjust your sleep patterns accordingly (which the apps above can help you do), making it easier for your body to adjust.
When it’s possible, the best option is to try to plan your flights to arrive at your destination in the early afternoon or evening. That way, you only have a few more hours of light left and can get yourself back on schedule with the sun. Naturally, our brains are triggered to sleep when it’s dark and be alert when it’s light, so if you plan your flights with that in mind, it will help you get your body back into its natural rhythm.
Aside from timing, wearing clothing like compression socks will keep the blood flowing rather than pooling in your feet, pushing more oxygen to your brain, which will help you feel less fatigued when you hit the ground in your destination. This, combined with a few of the tips above will have you getting off the plane feeling ready to go, rather than ready to nap.
Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.